Inside the Tollway
In recognition of its outstanding work during winter storms to keep customers safe and roads clear, the Illinois Tollway has received the 2021 Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award from the American Public Works Association.
The award is presented annually by the APWA to select public works and transportation agencies that demonstrate sustained achievement in clearing snow and ice from their roadways to ensure they continue operating safely during severe winter weather. The Tollway was one of three agencies in North America to receive the award.
The Tollway prepares for winter weather year-round by servicing its fleet of nearly 200 snowplows, procuring salt and other de-icing materials and refining its operational plans to better respond to a variety of storm conditions.
“The safety of our more than 1.6 million daily drivers is the Illinois Tollway’s top priority and that’s why we’re ready whenever winter storms strike to provide clear, reliable roads so our customers can safely reach their destinations,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez. “We’re pleased to accept this award recognizing the exemplary work done by our roadway and operations staff and we pledge to continue working to improve our response to severe winter weather.”
The Tollway uses snowplows equipped with smart technologies that helps them efficiently clear snow and ice, while also allowing drivers to adjust the amounts of salt and other de-icing materials dispersed to limit their impact on our environment. Using various concentrations of chlorides, brine solutions, beet-heat and aggregates enables the Tollway to address varying winter weather conditions on different segments of the Tollway system to better remove wind-blown or hard-packed snow from roadways.
During winter storms, the Illinois Tollway has a full complement of more than 200 staff and supervisors working per shift, around the clock, if necessary, to ensure that roadways are kept clear of snow and ice.
The Tollway also typically deploys plows in advance of storms to pre-treat key portions of its system to slow the buildup of snow and ice on roadways, then continues cleanup operations following storms to remove snow from shoulders and medians to provide the safest possible roadway conditions for drivers.
“We’re out there working in advance of the storm and we continue with cleanup efforts even after the snow has stopped falling,” Alvarez said. “That’s why our roads operate so safely and efficiently even during extreme conditions.”
To keep customers informed about snow removal efforts and roadway conditions, the Tollway communicates with customers before, during and after each storm through traditional media outlets such as radio and TV broadcast stations, as well as social media channels and on its website, illinoistollway.com.
The Tollway also works in close coordination with the Illinois of Transportation, Illinois State Police and local transportation agencies to serve the entire northern Illinois region.
A network of 12 maintenance facilities—including some new, LEED-certified structures--are located across the Tollway system to better support snow and ice removal operations.
The Illinois Tollway will be honored for its work on April 20 at a virtual meeting of the APWA North American Snow Conference.
About the Illinois Tollway
The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 294 miles of roadways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80) and the Illinois Route 390 Tollway.